They say don’t feed the trolls, but I’m writing a whole blog about them. I’m also leaving names in., and screenshots up. All of these people chose to come to my platforms and put these things out into the universe publicly.
Screenshots are forever, and I have very little grace for people with blatant disrespect.
On Wednesday, I turn 30 years old, and I can still remember the first time someone called me fat.
I was 7. I was chasing a boy on the playground at recess and I couldn’t catch him. A the end of our friendly game, he said I couldn’t catch him because I was fat (he also made fun of my hair). I went home and asked my mom if I was fat.
She said boys don’t get to determine how you feel about yourself. Perfect lesson from her (spoiler alert, I didn’t really get it until I was about 20).
I remember the first time I felt insecure about going shopping. I was shopping for my first homecoming dress in high school. I went from a size eight, to a 10, to a 14, to a 16. It felt very quick, and although my mom tried to make me feel like we’d find something, I just knew we wouldn’t. We did, but it was less of a choice, and more of what was left.
I remember the first time I purposely made myself throw up. Somehow, I thought it would help me not be so fat. It was not the last time.
I remember the first time I felt uncomfortable with a guy. Where, the chips were all in for him, but my body was all over my mind, and instead of being there, my brain was completely flooded under thoughts of sabotage and insecurity. I couldn’t get past it, and he dumped me because he thought I didn’t like him.
I remember starving myself, eating 900 calories a day, and working out for two hours a day, seven days a week because I wanted to change as quickly as possible. That’s how I thought I would do it.
I obsessively logged everything in a food diary and tracked every calorie in and out that I could. I remember everyone congratulating me on how much weight I’d lost. I made a collage because I looked in the mirror and saw no progress. I weighed myself twice a day.
I remember hating myself during that time still. I was exactly where I wanted to be, and I still hated everything about me.
I remember being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after I’d just dropped 30 pounds, and thinking “what the actual hell?” In the end, I wasn’t really losing weight the right way, given my “methods”. But, I pressed on.
I saw a therapist. We talked about how to cope. She gave me recommendations for learning to have a healthy relationship with food. I did the work, I got better.
I involved my husband, and I told him that even though I seemed alright, I was pretty messed up. He supported me through it all.
But every day is a conscious decision to stay on the right side of my boundary.
I’ve been at my lowest weight in years this past year. That’s actually thanks to diabetes. I lost weight when I switched to a long-acting insulin, but also got more conscious about my overall health. I am working at it almost every moment of my life.
I want to be healthy enough to get pregnant. I want to have a healthy pregnancy. I want to live a complication-free life with diabetes. I don’t want to look at food and feel guilt sometimes and I’m doing every single freaking thing I can to maintain that.
When I got my first big campaign about living with diabetes, I was SO happy that I would finally get to represent it as someone with type 2. But some of the comments were abysmal. Take a look.
Ouch. Maybe this.
I was talking about how I control my diabetes in this series of videos, by the way. Literally talking about what I do to take care of my overall health.
And what neither of those people knew, or probably will ever know, is that years before this, I hated myself so much, that I refused to eat, or I would pretend to eat around my friends. I had a horrible relationship with food.
I felt like a terrible human being, and those comments made me feel guilt for weighing more than I did when I practiced unhealthy habits, even though I was in a far better place.
I didn’t need someone to tell me I was fat, and I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I was already punishing myself every single chance I could.
Then, this week.
In the year of our lord and savior 2019, in THIS National Diabetes Month, where we come together for education, awareness and support. It happens AGAIN.
Let’s reflect, shall we? These last couple of days were pretty bad, and I couldn’t even screenshot everything, y’all. I picked three of the most glaring examples.
Strangers, who see one sliver of my story, don’t understand what it took for me to mentally get to a place where sharing about diabetes, and sharing photos of myself on the internet for strangers to give their shitty opinions about was even OK for me.
Every day, several times a day I have to think about food. And in every single one of those moments, I already think about the effects of that food on my blood sugar. Then, I choose to eat, like most human beings, and I think of comments like this, and I feel guilty for it.
Even if it’s grilled chicken and broccoli – I feel guilty for having food, making food, liking food or writing a recipe blog.
I don’t expect strangers on the internet to be privy to the thoughts that go on in my mind, but like anyone else, I do expect respect, and civil conversation, and the benefit of the doubt.
I probably wouldn’t be talking about diabetes management as much as I do if it wasn’t going well for me. And every day I do the very best I possibly can.
I’m going to be honest, I cried over lots of these comments, and these weren’t even all of them. I didn’t cry out of hurt, really. I cried out of frustration that people just don’t get that living with type 2 is already hard enough without the stigma and shame.
People blame us. They assume we don’t want good health. They assume we are taking their resources, or making their diabetes look worse.
So, when you pile on, tell me I weigh 300 pounds, say I deserved diabetes and tell me that I should be shamed for having my type, it makes me want to give up. Why waste my breath when this is what I’m up against?
I can do everything possible to get my own management right. And someone will still look me right in the face and tell me I’m at fault, I’m lazy, I’m not doing enough, genetics is not a factor. Ya know. All the stupid blame-shame we always hear about diabetes.
When you’ve had a strained relationship with your body for the nearly three decades you’ve lived in it, your body image is like a house of cards.
One comment like this is like the wind, and just as you get set up, it knocks you right down.
Every time this happens, I melt into a puddle of shame. I want to hide, and I never want to come out of the cave I’m in. They’re the smallest comments, but they make me feel worthless. They make me feel like all of the mental energy I put into taking care doesn’t mean anything.
Then, I have this moment where I feel powerful. Where, I block and mute the comments that are bad for my mental health and I write a blog for catharsis.
Then I go back to remembering that weight isn’t everything. That so fucking what if I have a double chin? I remember that my A1C started at 13%, and now it’s down to six. I remember that there are plenty of people who know how far I’ve come, but plenty of people who don’t are still kind, and accepting.
So, maybe people say those things because they want to feel superior. Maybe they say them out of a place of pure hate. Maybe for them it’s fun to rile people up. Maybe they don’t have enough diabuddies to tell them to quit being assholes.
Whatever the case is, it makes me stronger and reminds me of my own power every time I go through this cycle of shaming.
Every time I get reminded that I’m fat, I get to remind everyone why my advocacy around diabetes shame and stigma is still important. I’ll always take the stance that no one deserves their diabetes, and no one should be stigmatized for it.
So please, call me fat again, so I can keep yelling to the world about diabetes shame and stigma.